Dark Side of the Moon
Blutch (writer and artist)
Europe Comics at izneo.com
February 15, 2007
IZNEO HAS PROVIDED WWAC WITH A VIP ACCESS PASS.
Sometimes, I want an adventurous read. Something that feels very personal, something that challenges me to do something more than simply experience a story. I am not going to lie, it took me about a third of the way through reading this book to actually figure out what the story was trying to say. It was a bit disconcerting at first, seeing as this book is only fifty-seven pages long, but once I realized the brilliance of Blutch’s message I was enamored by the storytelling techniques. Once you read Dark Side of the Moon, you’ll experience an expertly executed comic which will challenge you to read into art, symbolism, and the human experience.
Set in the near future where creativity is manufactured, Dark Side of the Moon follows comic artist Lantz, the author of the Brand New Testament, a foundation of the world. Lantz has been suffering from writer’s block for a while and the publishers are charged with finding a replacement among users of a futuristic computer system, in which users stick their hands in an enclosed, amorphous blob, but aren’t quite sure what they are doing. The young Liebling is an artist trying to balance a wage earning life and her artistic drive. When the publishers discover her artistic talent through the connected network, they want her to author the Brand New Testament. They whisk her away even though she has some undesirable qualities and force her to create anyway. But does Lantz know Liebling from another life, another time?
Not many people know the Angoulême Grand Prix award-winning French comic creator Blutch, as only a handful of his works have been translated into English. His art style is frenetic without being overbearing. While his lines are scratchy, his use of color elevates the moodiness of the story. Characters in the same panel often don’t have the same coloring or shading techniques, enhancing the characters’ physicality and relationship to others in the scene. When skeptical readers say they don’t want to read comics because they like to envision the scenes in their mind, I’m going to point them to Blutch from now on because the colors affect the mood of the reader rather than being a true to life rendering.
The two main themes of this book are creativity and youth. In a world where creative works can pop into existence without the creator putting forth any effort, what becomes of art? After being tracked down, Liebling’s apartment is raided by a publishing agent and he calls the artwork she makes with her hands filth and says she’s crazy. This is because the world has lost the essence of art, which is the process—something we see Liebling actively taking part in, sitting in front of a canvas. Supposedly, this art is much different than the art she makes when her hands are anonymous inside the computer. Liebling, which is the German word for darling, is also dating a young man named Lantz, who may be a version of the Lantz we’ve been following. However, Liebling seems to be a reflection of youthful artistic expression that Lantz wishes he could get back. The layers of symbolism makes this a contemplative read, one I thought about for a long time.
At its heart, Dark Side of the Moon feels like a very personal story about a creative man having a midlife crisis, but as a reader, I spent so much time decoding the world that I didn’t pick up on that subtext right away. As a caution to potential readers, this book does contain nudity and some sexually explicit material, all which play a specific role in the storytelling. I highly recommend this book to readers who want a surprising story and personally cannot wait to hunt down other Blutch titles.